One of the biggest positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into the NFL Draft is wide receiver. Realistically, this has been one of the team's biggest needs since Jimmy Smith retired after the 2005 NFL season. The team has swung and missed in the first round of the draft and in free agency, but the 2012 NFL Draft is loaded with good wide receiver prospects, so there should be a guy or two the Jaguars can target.
In a recent Monday Mailbag I was asked who were some of my favorite wide receivers in the draft, and the player I'm going to break down today was one of the ones that I mentioned. Wake Forest wide receiver Chris Givens is a receiver who can play both outside and inside in the slot, and challenge teams deep. I think he's very comparable to Baylor's Kendall Wright, who's virtually a lock for the first round. I think Givens is a bit undervalued by most draftniks heading towards the 2012 NFL Draft however, and I'll explain why after the jump.
The first play in the video is a standard end-around, where Givens can utilize his speed to pick up chunks of yardage and the first down. This is one of the many ways that Wake Forest used to get the football in Givens hands in space and let him do work. In this game, Givens finished up with 6 receptions for 111 yards and that rush for 12 yards. Givens is a guy who's not big, but he's physical at 5'11" and 198 pounds, and has speed to burn clocking in at an official 4.41 at the NFL Combine. One of his biggest strengths outside of his speed is his route running and knowing when to sit in a zone and when to attack a zone.
The next play is a simple crossing route, where Wake's offense clears out the middle of the field for Givens. He catches the football cleanly and then turns on the jets to out run defenders and turn the short pass into a first down. This is a very common play for the Wake Forest offense and Givens often turned it into chunks of yardage. Later on in the cut ups, you'll see why Wake runs these types of plays so much as opposed to letting Givens just take the top off the defense.
The next play I want to look at, Givens is lined up on the outside and the slot receiver and Givens run a standard "screen" type of route where they cross up and force the defensive backs to pick one of the receivers. The Wake receiver actually bumps the NC State defender, and probably should have been flagged, but Givens uses his speed to just attack the zone down the seem and pick up a big chunk of yardage. A better throw by quarterback Tanner Price, leading Givens to the outside likely would have netted a long touchdown instead of just a long first down.
If you continue watching the cut up, you'll see the Wake quarterback under throws Givens a lot on the deeper patterns, which is a big reason Givens runs so many quick screens and short crossers. He does challenge NC State deep often, but Price just can't seem to put enough mustard on the ball to get it to him. You can see on the play Givens is moved inside by the corner and then released, but on the cut in his route he gets the safety tangled up and begins to create separation while his quarterback is rolling out, but the pass falls short.
Later in the game Wake once again tries to hit Givens down the field on the NC State defense. You can see on the play Givens is lined up wide at the bottom of the screen and beats the coverage down the field, despite the corner dropping into a late cushion right before the ball is snapped. Due to the shade on the field, on the orignal play you can't really see what happens, but on the replay you can see Givens has created separation with the corner, but the ball is once again just short of the receiver.
On the very next play in the video, Price is able to loft the ball to Givens deep down the field for a long gain. If the pass had a little more muscle on it and Givens wasn't force to awkwardly adjust for it, it's another long gain that really could have been an easy long touchdown.
The next game I wanted to look at was Givens against Virginia Tech, where he blazes right past Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosely, who's one of my favorite corners in the draft and who will also likely be a first or second day draft pick.
Starting out the cut up against Virginia Tech, it's another gadget play with Givens where he's set to pass the football. Nothing really happens on the play, but Givens is at least smart enough to throw the football away to where no one can get it and avoid a loss of yardage.
The very next play however is the one I really wanted to use this video for. You can see the Wake quarterback throw the ball deep down the seam to Givens, who has a clear couple of steps on the cornerback, Jayron Hosely, and catches the football for the easy long touchdown pass. Hosely of course comes up lame and grabs his hamstring towards the end of the play, but there was no way he was going to catch Givens.
Givens finished up the game against Virginia Tech with 7 receptions for 140 yards, including the 79-yard touchdown catch early in the game. He's a player that is easy to fall in love with because of his big play potential and I think he's every bit the player that Kendall Wright is and reminds me a bit of Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace.
I tend to think Givens will wind up getting drafted a lot higher than most experts thing and I think he will be a top target of teams looking for a wide receiver in the top of the second round. I expect Givens to be drafted anywhere in the second round and the latest in the third round.